How to Clean a Flag
We hang flags to proclaim our patriotic spirit. This is especially true for retired veterans or those who have loved ones serving in the military. Others hang flags representing the seasons, important events, favorite teams or just a cute and whimsical design as decoration. An American flag can be particularly tricky to wash. Red, white and blue all lying together in one inseparable panel can cause the blue or red dye to bleed onto the white. This is not just a problem with an American flag; it is a problem with any countries' flag that has light and dark colors. Team flags and display flags also encounter this problem. When a flag becomes dingy and dirty it is time to wash it.
Step 1 Polyester / nylon / synthetics
Polyester, nylon or other synthetic fabrics are generally safe to wash in a machine. Set the washing machine on the gentle cycle with warm water. Add a mild liquid laundry detergent to the wash water.
You can also hand wash the flag with a mild liquid detergent made for delicate items. Hang the flag to dry on a breezy day, out of the sun. The water will intensify the sun and cause fading.
Step 2 Cotton / wool
Cotton and wool flags usually require professional cleaning by a dry cleaner to keep the colors from bleeding. Choose a dry cleaner if you do not have the washing instructions or if the flag has value to you just to be on the safe side.
If the flag is not of great value to you, you can attempt to wash it. Hand wash the flag in cold water with a mild liquid laundry detergent. Rinse it in cold water. Hang to dry or lay flat to dry.
- Take your flag inside during rain, snow or sleet to make it last longer.
- Consider having a sentimental flag professionally preserved and sealed in a display case to prevent damage from insects, environment or handling.
- Always check tags or packaging instructions for acceptable washing methods and water temperatures.
- Do not fly a flag on a very windy day. The wind is harsh and can roughen and split edges and seams, which leads to fraying.
- Always let the flag dry completely before storing it. A stored wet flag will rot, fall apart or grow mold and mildew.